Taking your thoughts, no matter how crazy they may be, and manifesting them into a successful idea is a tremendous feeling and one that is not frequently shared enough. In order to make this more possible, many teams conduct visual thinking exercises to bring the most out of their brainstorming sessions. In this article, we will dive into 5 unique visual thinking exercises and discuss how they will help your team improve their efficiency and innovative capabilities.
For those that don’t know, “dreamzoning” is a term coined by Robert Olen Butler where the participant takes a couple of minutes to focus solely on daydreaming. During this time, the participant will zone in and out on their story and simply focus on letting their imagination run wild.
While daydreaming is almost always a mistake or something done during a lapse in focus, providing additional focus to this activity can help people brung unconscious thoughts to the front of their minds. This is a great way to create innovative thoughts and translate them into real ideas.
Although you’ll actively create and guide a narrative during this point, you’ll also use it to more directly tap your unconscious by simply allowing images of your stories (or whatever) to surface. Similar to any meditation practice, you’ll find it helpful to make a distraction-free environment with background music to give your team the best chance at coming up with something brilliant.
Walking meditation is a way to turn your visual thinking exercises into more cathartic activities. This activity is a way to add another dimension to your brainstorming and allows you to daydream and brainstorm but also provides some external influence for boosts of creativity and natural inspiration.
For example, walking meditation is a great individual exercise to conduct when you’re working from home and you need a boost of inspiration. Simply take a stroll outside and, with a vague idea in mind, focus on letting your ideas run free and manifest into something greater than what they started. This is an application of dreamzoning that can help integrate real-world elements and can provide another layer of fresh thoughts to your brainstorming process.
Looking for Your Own Symbolism
The pictures that arise in our minds when we’re awake aren’t so different from people who come to us in our dreams. Story-driven images are often even as personally symbolic as are your dreams. Our unconscious brains don’t speak in words but in symbols. For those folks who think visually, the photographs we see probably reflect those symbols quite we realize.
This particular visual thinking exercise asks you to draw and analyze some common symbols that you find throughout everyday life, whether that be in work, free time, or even when you’re asleep. Noting these symbols can help improve your image recognition and ability to link images with significant meanings. This skill is critical to visual thinking and is catalyzed by these visual thinking exercises.
Filling the Well
Our unconscious minds cobble up available visual details to make meaningful images — within the same way we consciously cobble up known words to make meaningful communication. To me, this means the more remembered images our brain can draw upon, the more expansive our visual thinking becomes.
Take many items that exist around you, or at least the images of them, and think about how they relate to one another on a physical, spatial, and design-centric level. This analysis can help point out unforeseen similarities and differences between objects and can help apply that logic to the workplace.
Using Music as Inspiration
Music isn’t, of course, visual. On the other hand again, for several folks, it is. Music is such a strong source of emotion, and for some people, that emotion translates into images. Taking a couple of minutes to quietly analyze a song is often all I want to kick-start my visual thinking for the day. This is a great example of how visual thinking exercises can utilize multimedia inspiration to draw out unique and innovative ideas from other people. Another important way that visual thinking exercises can incorporate multimedia content is through online whiteboards, which you can read about more here.
Whether you prefer a solo meditation or a music-laden ideation session, these visual thinking exercises are a great way to stimulate creative thinking for your whole team. These exercises help expose some of the biggest advantages of using visual thinking, more of which you can find here. If you liked this article make sure you check out Fresco’s other recent posts where we detailed the differences between visual thinking and design thinking.